The Tough Love Guide to Stress Relief
Stress seems to be seeping into more areas of the average person’s life – and not just existing – but almost overpowering people to the point of depression and anxiety on a continual basis.
You may have realized your stress issues a long time ago. At first, maybe you just dealt with it like most people do – ignore it until it bubbled over into tears or anger or exhaustion.
But then it might have gotten worse – to the point where you become aware that you rarely have any good days anymore and that it seems every time you lay your head on your pillow, your mind is flooded with a recap of everything you disliked about your day and what tomorrow might have in store for you (none of it smile-worthy).
There are many ways to alleviate stress. You’ll hear many people teach you to meditate, to use aromatherapy, and to journal your anxiety and anger away. But if you’ve tried all that, and you’re still complaining – then maybe it’s time to make some bold moves and kick things up a notch in your fight against this monster that seems to be taking over your life.
One of the biggest problems with the stress epidemic today is that most people know they feel it, but they just find something that sounds relaxing to apply to it – like a Band-Aid.
That doesn’t fix the problem. It’s like you having a disease, and instead of getting to the root of the matter, the doctor just gives you a pain pill. If there was a fix, so that you didn’t have to take that pill again, wouldn’t you want to know about it?
Some people are too general in identifying their stress. You have to say more than, “I don’t have enough time,” or, “I hate my job.” A simple, “People annoy me” statement won’t do, either – you have to analyze it and find out exactly what it is that’s eating away at you.
While some people journal their feelings away, as if to spill all of the stress onto a page – you can do it for a different reason – to pinpoint the exact cause of what’s bugging you.
Sometimes you might routinely mention something like, “I don’t have enough time,” but when you really pick apart the day on paper, you realize that you don’t have enough time because your spouse isn’t pitching in with the kids or errands and you feel disrespected and unsupported.
Identifying your stressors is like deconstructing a meal. You might see the finished item on your plate, but how did it become the chicken parmesan that you see before you? When you work backwards to see what all went into the recipe (or your stress), you’re able to identify important ingredients.
For example, you might feel exhausted and simply think you work too much, but as you work your way back, you discover you’re not sleeping right and if you could simple tweak your sleep hygiene, it might improve the way you handle the regular chaos of every single day.
Start with making some word bubbles of your day as you go through it. Maybe once each hour. Write down an adjective that describes how you felt in the past hour, and a general idea of why.
For example – you might write sad because your parent called and told you about your sibling’s circumstances, which are always a mess. Or you might feel angry because a coworker dumped their project on you at the last minute.
Maybe you felt happy because you got an hour alone one night and you were able to indulge in your favorite TV show without interruption. Be honest about your emotions and then, when you see them, start deconstructing that they’re all about.
The issue with your parent calling to commiserate about your sibling might be deconstructed like this when you’re thinking of what made you feel sad about it:
– Your parent never calls unless it’s to complain.
– Your sibling and you are estranged and you don’t want to hear about their problems.
– Your parent always calls you at work when you’re trying to be productive.
When you deconstruct the issue, you might be able to find solutions or workarounds for the problem. For example, maybe you tell your parent that you don’t want to discuss your sibling anymore – or maybe you tell them that you can’t accept calls at work anymore, so you’ll have to chat on the weekend only.
The key is to understand why things make you feel the way they do – so you can experience fewer down moments and get more of those moments that provide immense personal satisfaction for you.
The only way this will go wrong is if you aren’t honest with yourself about things. It’s okay to admit to yourself in a journal that you want 60 minutes without your spouse so you can watch a show without him or her chiming in about it.
Boundaries are not comfortable for anybody. They work, and they work very well – but they make the person setting them uncomfortable and the person on the receiving end either angry, sad or a mix of emotions.
For those who have always felt victimized by the actions or opinions of others, the act of setting boundaries will free you from that label and the stress that comes with it. Being a victim is something you choose – it’s not a decision the other person gets to make.
What does it mean to have boundaries? It can mean different things to different people. For some, it might be something as simple as no longer discussing serious matters with certain friends or family members – keeping them at arm’s length, so to speak.
For others, it can be limited your interaction with that person. Maybe you used to speak to them daily, so to protect yourself from the stress they cause you, you begin dialing down your communication with them from frequently to rarely.
In some cases, you may even have to completely eliminate someone from your life. If they’re that toxic, and if they refuse to abide by the boundaries you put in place, then you can free yourself from that stress by cutting them out of your life.
This is the most difficult thing for many people to do. Instead of seeing it as a protective and preventative measure, they’d rather not suffer the discomfort of cutting the person off, and therefore invite more emotional abuse every day thereafter.
You can start with small boundaries and build up from there – giving the other person the ability to respect your boundaries first. But understand that most people don’t know what boundaries are, and have no intention of abiding by them.
Let’s say you get stressed whenever the phone rings and you see it’s your mom – because you know she only calls to discuss your brother, who you’re estranged from and who has a chaotic, criminal life.
First, you can try setting the boundary of telling your mom that you no longer will be discussing your brother. You don’t ask her not to speak of him – because that gives her the control.
You demand it. Calmly and respectfully, either explain that the issue brings stress to your life – or don’t explain at all, and simply inform her of your boundary. Now if she continues speaking about him, you can then limit calls to one day on the weekend only.
If, on that weekend day, you realize she has no interest in you – but only uses you as a way to unload her own burdensome stress regarding your brother – then you can make the tough decision to eliminate contact until she understands the boundary – or forever, if it brings you peace.
Only you can decide what constitutes cutting someone out of your life. That’s a drastic, yet necessary step for many to make. It depends on how much stress having that person in your life creates.
If it’s overwhelming, then you are literally hurting your body physically to flood it with cortisol (the stress hormone) day after day. If you find a way to easily get past it, then it may not be that big of a deal to you.
This type of boundary isn’t just about people. It’s about things that result in stress, too. Maybe you agreed to some sort of responsibility like being a room mom – that you find is causing you to fall behind on work or not be able to give relationships the attention they deserve.
You may have to set a boundary that you will either finish out that year and never get strong-armed into the role again, ask that the other room moms take on their fair share of the duties – or, request that someone else take the reins and the role and allow you to get back control of your life.
When you deconstruct your feelings and pinpoint the stressor, give yourself some time to analyze how much of an impact it truly has on you – how serious it is. When you understand that, jot down a few boundary options that range from mild to severe – and keep those on hand to remind you of what can be done if the person or situation doesn’t resolve itself easily.
Be aware that there is usually a backlash to people setting boundaries. They don’t want to give up control of the situation and they don’t appreciate you shutting them out. A boundary is simply you taking control of what you will allow to affect you, so don’t be bullied into backing down.
With stress, have you ever noticed how many people like to complain? You probably do it every single day – gripe about the traffic, your weight, the boss, your relationship with someone.
In order to fix the stress issue for good, you have to start realizing that much of this is your fault. Not what the other person or situation is doing, but in how you allow it to affect you and what you plan to do about it.
It’s time to get fed up hearing yourself complain about things and actually take steps to remedy them. Put your foot down and reclaim control over your life. There are many instances where the people stressing you out don’t even know it’s affecting you so bad – mainly because we’re so programmed to be polite and not lash out like that.
But it’s not rude to make your preferences known and then act if someone else doesn’t back off and leave you alone. For example, if a coworker has a way of dumping their projects on you – decline to accept them!
Tell the person you’re already working on something. Make them start accepting responsibility for their own schedule and not using you as a crutch to achieve their career goals.
If you’re always complaining about work – either the career itself or the people you work with – blame yourself for not getting out to change things. Pursue a different career or find another place of employment.
If you’re always complaining that your friend tries to get you to cheat on your diet when you go to lunch with her and it stresses you out, stop going to lunch with her! Either engage in a non food activity, or be blunt and explain that if she can’t stop doing that, you won’t be able to see her anymore.
At first, you’re going to be really nervous and question if what you just did was the right thing to do. These are major changes. And yet, you’ll start to feel so empowered and so free – that you’ll wonder why you didn’t take these steps sooner.
This is the time when you work on the smaller stress relief goals of your life. If you eliminate the chaotic schedule, then you suddenly find extra time to relax and enjoy life. This is the perfect time to inject more stress relief into your day – the kinds of things like aromatherapy, massage, meditation, and more.
Stress will never go away. Always remember that even when things seem to be calm and enjoyable, anything can happen the next week, day or minute. Be prepared to handle those situations by strengthening your resolve to protect and pamper yourself first and foremost.
This is a great role model situation for you to be in with your children, too. Imagine if your child complained every day about how his or her friend was using them and making them feel sad.
You’d probably encourage them to set boundaries and become strong. Show that you, yourself can do that. You aren’t being mean. You’re being smart. You’re preserving your sanity and living life to the fullest.
Most people will walk through life being walked over like a welcome mat. You don’t have to live like that anymore. Look the stress factors straight in the eye and take them out – one by one.
Learning how to deal with stress is something that everybody needs to know. Even our health can suffer the effects of stress which can also make it difficult to think clearly enough to solve even the simplest task. The good news is that there are simple easy techniques for reducing your stress which we will cover here in this article.
As more studies show the link between stress and many health problems, stress management becomes an important consideration for many people. These 3 top stress management ways can help you to reduce the levels of stress in your life, so make good use of them.
Go get a massage, this is the first method for reducing and managing stress levels. Massage has often been thought of as a great way to relieve sore muscles, but it can also reduce overall body tension, anxiety and stress too. There are a lot of studies that prove massage is a great way to reduce stress when done regularly. There are many different types of massage, so you should try several kinds and find the one that you prefer.
Nowadays it’s not usually hard to find qualified massage therapists. Massage can release endorphins in the brain which produce pleasure which is helpful in not only stress reduction but also helpful for emotional issues such as anxiety and depression to name a few.
We have all already probably heard of various methods of relaxation. Some of the most popular methods are basic mediation and the various forms of yoga. You can attend online or actual classes to learn the different parts of these methods so you can learn to relax. There are also other options to these major relaxation techniques. A simpler and more straightforward option would be to learn deep breathing techniques. You can use these even when you are seated in your work station. Progressive muscle relaxation and mental imagery are also possible basic techniques you can use against stress.
Exercising on Schedule
It’s just like what your physical education teacher always said. Maintaining a regular exercise schedule can do wonders for your body. The major benefit of exercise is that it can encourage the proper circulation of your blood. This in turn ensures that oxygen and nutrients reach the various cells in your body. You need these if you ever hope to fight the bad effects of stress on your health.
You’ve now heard only a few of the most effective stress management tips available there are still other ways to approach the management of your overall stress including enough sleep and eating health. What causes your stress can be as important as treating it so you need to know what that is. Stress management can take many forms, and the methods you use will depend on your circumstances and what you prefer.
The 80/20 rule popularly known as the Pareto Principle was born by an Italian, Vifredo Pareto, after observing that approximately 20% of the people living in Italy owned an astonishing 80% of wealth. It reflected a simple symmetry of inequality then, and the principle gradually spread to other areas of life, particularly stress relief. According to Pareto, the majority of any output comes from the minority of any input.
From a wellness perspective 80% of your health problems will come from 20% of the lifestyle choices you make. Smoking for example, is a small thing that causes many people several health problems. When it comes to stress something that seems trivial would be enough to trigger major problems in some people. Someone might say something about your appearance thinking it’s a joke but if you take it to heart, chances are that it will weigh down on your mind.
To deal with the negative thoughts you will probably run to the pub for a drink but end up spending money that was meant for your bills. Later you might have to lie and the domino effect of stress continues. Depression easily steals 80% of one’s quality of life and most often, we fail to realize that its root cause is not what people say but low self-esteem. Simply working on your confidence would in this case be the 20% you need to do to avoid stress.
In today’s society, people with depression or ADHD quickly turn to drugs in a bid to manage the situation but if you were to follow the 80/20 principle, that is a drastic turn. Attention deficit problems, stress and depression are usually as a result of lifestyle choices so the simple solution would be making changes the foods you eat, how you work out and improve your outlook on life.
Anyone can use Pareto’s principle to reduce stress especially during this festive season when there are countless matters to attend to. Try making two columns of things that brings you stress and those that bring you joy. If for example you find that shopping causes you a great deal of anxiety, have someone else do it for you so you can focus on activities that bring happiness.
Trying to impress others is one of the reasons why many people feel dejected, rejected and unwanted. In line with Pareto’s principle you should protect the 80% that encompasses happiness and wellbeing by invoking positive thoughts and embracing simple solutions to seemingly big problems.
Many people live in the future. Why? Most people have a future that doesn’t mirror their present so they’d rather be in the future. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because Law of Attraction states, “…that which you give your attention to will manifest in your life.” However, staying in the future means your present is passing you by. The following are some ways to help you live in the now and live a happy life without stress.
1. Don’t think about it.
Your goal is to stop thinking all the time. Go write down things that pop in your mind, this could be exams that are coming up or that visit to grandpa in a few weeks. Then cross off the ones that you are happy about. The first kiss with your lover can be a great memory that you might want to remind yourself of sometimes. Now you’ve a list of bad things you think about all the time. Because you want to stop thinking about them simply make a pact with yourself to do something stupid each time your head wanders off to one of the subjects on your list. This can be shaking your head really hard or even do 3 push-ups. Warning: Be reasonable and always try to forget if it comes up again.
2. Do Yoga and exercises.
Doing daily exercising will get you in great shape and stops your head from wandering off. Don’t say to yourself I can’t exercise until I finished this, because that’s exactly what you want to get rid of.
3. Avoid daily routine
We like to plan our days so that we don’t hit any surprises. But there’s nothing wrong with some variation or on-the-fly decisions. Donate a dollar to the collector in front of your grocery story. Smile randomly when you see a new store opening up or a beautiful tree. They’re resources you can use for a very long time. You can visit the store to buy new things, and the tree will always be there for your viewing pleasure – and oxygen.
4. The past and future is a reflection of the present.
The most important thing is to do good in the present. Great memories will bloom and future health and wealth can be created. With that in mind it’s only natural to be your best in the present. Really enjoy what you’re doing. Writing or watching television; find the good things in your current activity. It’s the only thing you should worry about.
5. If you don’t like the present, change it.
You can’t change the past but you can change the future. And that’s most important. If you’re not happy with something in your life currently then change it. Want to be a architect? Go study architecture. Feeling lonely? Make a MySpace profile and meet new people. The only thing that is important is that your happy about the present. Only then your future is as bright as can be.
Practice living in the now and know that by accessing the power of now, you can enjoy even more success than ever before.
Whether you hold a full-time job or work as a freelancer, work from office or work from home, stress is a real issue that every working professional has to deal with sooner or later. As the work culture gets increasingly complicated and employees are expected to work more for less; it’s now more important than ever to find your own recluse.
Relax, if you’ve been feeling stressed out lately from all the workload, just follow these simple tips for a quick fix.
Tips to reduce work stress
1. Listen to music: If your workplace permits listening to music during working hours, plug-in the headphones and tune in for some light, acoustic music. Not only does relaxing music ease your brain by taking away stress, but it can also give you some much-needed motivation to complete the tasks in hand. Classical symphonies, relaxing OSTs and acoustic sound all work wonders.
2. Take a break: With the constant pressure coming from the weight of the world around us, it’s quite easy to feel bogged down and depressed. This is why one must break away from work life once in a while even if it sounds implausible. A break can give you a fresh perspective on things and how to get things done, which is essential for career growth and success. Don’t be afraid; just take a break and go someplace where you always wanted to go before.
3. Smile and laugh a lot: Now before you brand us crazy for asking you to laugh for no reason, just hear us out. Science has found that our mental health and brain function is interconnected to facial expressions. When people feel stressed out, a lot of stress is held in their facial muscles, so smiles and laughs can relieve some of that held tension and make you feel relaxed.
4. Exercise: No, we’re not going ask you to abandon work to visit the gym for a 40-minute lifting session. All you have to do is some simple stretches in between work to feel refreshed and relaxed. You can even go for a 10 min walk, do some pushups, or dance around when no one’s looking to bring back peace of mind.
5. Call in social support: Working, especially from home, can get very lonely at times due to lack of co-workers. In that case, it’s always good to call a friend to share your feelings and concerns. Involving friends and family within regular work schedules can relieve stress, improve trust, and benefit relationships in more ways than one.
Donâ’t think too much; just try out these simple tips the next time you get stressed to feel the difference.
Exercising is a great way to improve health, feel better and alleviate stress. For some, the very thought of exercising can feel overwhelming and the prospect of engaging in aerobic activity can add to current stress.
The fact is if you engage in exercise, you will feel much more relaxed at the end of it. Working up a sweat can be therapeutic on many levels. Envisioning the source of your stress and then doing something physical to that source, for example shadow-boxing, can be an excellent release. Getting your heart rate up for an extended period enables your brain to release your ‘feel good’ endorphins.
Low Impact Exercise Options
Yoga and Pilates are excellent stress relief forms of exercise; particularly if you suffer from joint and muscle pain. Many people have difficulty with high impact exercise. Most people who go to a yoga class for the first time are shocked at how sore they feel the next day. There seems to be this idea that yoga simply consists of light stretching.
These ancient poses engage numerous muscle groups. Taking slow, deep breaths while holding the yoga poses, helps to facilitate a cleansing process within our body, enabling accumulated toxins to release.
Pilates is excellent for toning and sculpting the muscles. These workouts are considered to be moderate intensity. Not only will you become fitter over time, you will possibly shed some weight too. The pace is fairly slow but the importance is doing the exercises correctly and breathing properly in the process. As you notice your body responding in a positive manner, you will be more inclined to keep these workouts up.
Making time to get outside everyday can make a huge difference in your ability to cope with stress. Reconnecting with fresh air, sunshine and vitamin D, and the vegetation surrounding you is important. Unfortunately, many of us spend no time outdoors anymore. This is a sad human condition. The majority of our ancestors spent their lives farming or growing a garden, tending to livestock and chopping wood. The need to be outside in nature is something that is in our veins. Taking time to smell the flowers and chat with your neighbors are positive ways to alleviate stress.
Walking and any exercise helps to get your circulation flowing. Exercise often clears your mind and leaves you feeling invigorated. Not only will your mood be improved, you will most likely have more patience with your spouse and kids.
When you feel good about yourself and your choices, you will naturally be less stressed. When you feel like you are being proactive in living a healthy lifestyle, you will be proud of yourself and how you have incorporated new positive methods for handling stress.
Massage feels so good and there is no doubt about that. Most of us have experienced being massaged at some point in our lives. Of course many love to have it done on a regular basis. Beyond the physical ‘feel-good’ sensation, most are aware also of the mind relaxation and stress alleviation that occurs at the same time.
Those who have experienced a body massage would definitely agree that a scientific study is not needed in order to prove the fact that massage provides relief from the symptoms of stress.
Massage Results in Reduced Stress and Anxiety
A study published in the National Institutes of Health revealed that TM or touch massage helped healthy volunteers achieve decreased activity in their sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is a vital part of the body’s autonomic nervous system.
When there is increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system it will bring about a cascade of physiological reactions associated with the “fight or flight” response of a person. This can be helpful in dangerous situations, but if stress becomes chronic the person’s sympathetic nervous system will become less able to return to its necessary resting state. In turn, the body will maintain a rapid heartbeat and any other reactions that usually occur as part of the body’s response to a stressful situation.
By utilizing touch massage study participants were able to achieve autonomic balance as it helped them decrease the activity in their sympathetic nervous system. In short, relief from anxiety and stress was achieved.
Improved Breathing and Lowered Blood Pressure
A Swedish study led by Lenita Lindgren from the Umeå University confirmed the effectiveness of touch massage in reducing stress among healthy participants. The same type of massage was also found effective in lowering the levels of anxiety among participants who had just been through a major surgery. In addition, the two groups of study participants also showed signs of lowered blood pressure along with improved breathing.
Slow and Mild Strokes onto the Skin
The effectiveness of massage in providing stress relief is attributed to something which has already been known since time immemorial – the power of human touch. In fact, Lindgren’s study showed that using a masseur’s gloves when massaging did not provide as much benefit to the person being massaged compared to massaging with the use of bare hands. Perhaps the use of bare hands is the most significant part of the entire therapy. When coupled with just the right stroke and mild pressure the results can be more than what a person expects from a mere touch massage.
Apart from proving the value of the use of bare hands, Lindgren’s study made great effort to determine which speed and pressure provided the greatest relief. The study results gave recommendations such as exerting only 2.5 newtons of force and that the movement as well as speed of the massage should only be within 105 centimeters per second. To the layperson, this be summarized as being that gently and slowly will give the best benefits for stress relief.
No Placebos Involved
Another excellent feature of Lindgren’s study is the use of the same group of participants as also being her control group. Instead of using placebo pills which could only measure the participants’ expectations rather than their actual feelings, she asked the study participants to merely rest during the control period.
While resting, their blood pressure, insulin, glucose levels and feelings were charted. The assessments before the massage therapy, during the therapy, while they were merely resting and after the touch massage were all recorded and evaluated.
Massage Stimulated the “Feel-Good” Region of the Brain
The positive effects that take place in the brain after or while undergoing a massage were seen by Lindgren and her research team on an MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging system. Brain scans of the study participants showed that touch massage increases activity in the region of the brain referred to as the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex. This is the region of the brain that is associated with feelings of enjoyment, happiness and other “feel-good” sensations.
Massage Therapy Reduced Stress Levels among Chemotherapy Patients
The journal titled Psychooncology published a study which also confirmed the effectiveness of massage in providing relief to stressed individuals. In this study, the participants were patients who are undergoing intensive chemotherapy. After a massage therapy session, patients measured reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Massage therapy was also able to lower patients’ levels of prolactin in the body. While the production of prolactin is at its peak during childbirth as it is essential for milk production, prolactin levels may also raise when an individual is subjected to stress.
With lowered levels of cortisol and prolactin the result could be significant improvement in a person’s physical, mental and psychological well-being. The huge bonus is that all these benefits accrued from a non-invasive massage therapy.
The Effects of Massage Therapy Are Immediate
Another great thing about a massage is that its effects are all but immediate. Unlike taking a pill when you still have to wait for a few minutes to an hour for its effects to take place, the benefits that you get from massage can be felt right there and then.
This claim has been proven in a pilot study which was published in an issue of The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. The study had young adults in a psychiatric inpatient unit as its participants. One of their findings showed that massage therapy brought immediate reduction in the patients’ level of anxiety, aggression and stress.
Adrenal fatigue is a condition which is becoming increasingly prevalent, but at the same time is under-diagnosed. Relatively few people are aware that this condition is responsible for many of the fatigue-related symptoms they deal with on a daily basis. Prolonged or chronic stress is the major cause of adrenal fatigue.
An individual suffering from adrenal fatigue may find that even after sleeping for several hours the symptoms of fatigue can still be felt. It can seem that no amount of sleep or relaxation can overcome the kind of fatigue that a person who has adrenal fatigue experiences. One tell-tale sign of having adrenal fatigue can be a reliance on coffee and other stimulants to be able to get through the day and accomplish regular daily tasks.
Unfortunately, the consequence of adrenal fatigue does not just stop at feeling constantly fatigued and worn-out. The effects of chronic and prolonged stress can be very damaging to the body. In learning how to restore proper adrenal function you may be able to greatly increase your enjoyment of living.
Prolonged Stress Exhausts Your Adrenals
The adrenal glands play a critical role in human health, well-being and survival. Ideally, in times of stress the adrenals release hormones in amounts proportional to the perceived threat or need. These hormones trigger further hormone releases that temporarily enable super-powers in the person, enabling them to think and act faster and stronger than normally.
For health to be maintained it is necessary for these hormones to be dissipated by physical activity, followed by a critical rest period to enable the system, especially the adrenal glands, to fully recover. Unfortunately, in our modern lives this set of circumstances rarely occurs in our daily lives.
More often, the triggers that set off the ‘fight or flight’ response are emotion-based responses which lack a corresponding physical release. Worse still, there is usually no respite period before the next episode. Simply put, this is chronic stress.
Chronic stress causes prolonged production of adrenaline and cortisol which leads to exhaustion of the adrenals and depletion of these hormones. The adrenal glands cannot keep on producing stress hormones indefinitely. Eventually their output diminishes and constant fatigue sets in.
Stress Damage is System-wide
Each organ and every system in the body will suffer from the profound effects of malfunctioning adrenal glands. Once your adrenal glands are compromised, your body’s ability to metabolize fats, carbohydrate and protein will also be compromised. This occurrence also causes the depletion of specific nutrients that are much needed by the body for its optimal functioning.
Your body’s electrolyte balances, cardiovascular system, your heart and sex drive are also largely affected. These changes occur in degrees over time and may not be noticed in isolation. Eventually the adrenal depletion reaches a stage where it is impossible to remain unaware of a problem, usually a feeling of constant fatigue and being run-down. It is also usually noticed at this time that the person is more susceptible to infection and injury than they ever remembered previously being.
Exposing yourself to prolonged or chronic stress forces the body to continually produce stress hormones thereby constantly keeping it in panic mode. This becomes the accepted ‘norm’ and may go largely unnoticed. When the body is always in survival mode it is unable to effectively perform other important functions such as digesting food, fighting infections, regulating hormones, improving blood flow, etc.
In this state, the heart is constantly pumping harder and beating faster. The arteries will also be constricting most of the time while the body’s metabolism is using lean muscle as fuel for energy each time the body is subjected to stress.
Need for Repair
If you are suffering from adrenal fatigue it is first necessary to reduce or eliminate the stress causing it, or learn to deal with it more effectively to reduce the response to stressors. Then changes need to made to both diet and lifestyle, particularly rest patterns, to enable the adrenals to repair themselves. Unfortunately, as the damage did not occur overnight, neither will be the recovery, which can take up to two years.
A study published in the National Institutes of Health suggests that stress does not directly cause hypertension but it can have a significant impact on its development. Although hypertension or high blood pressure can be caused by many factors, there is no doubt that the effects of stress on a person’s blood pressure have become an increasingly important subject of research and study.
Psychological Stress and Blood Pressure
Studies conducted on students reveal that their heart rate and blood pressure are higher during exam days. The autonomic assessment is done using a computerized analysis of a person’s cardiovascular variability through an electrocardiogram. It includes analyzing the students’ responses to the psychological questionnaires given to them, along with the laboratory analysis of their saliva.
The levels of cytokines released and hormone cortisol being produced by the body are also measured through their saliva samples. The amount of proteins produced by the immune system when the body is in a stressful situation is also measured and included in the autonomic assessment.
The results reveal that the students’ heart rate and blood pressure are higher during their exam days than during vacation days. This convincingly shows that psychological stress is a large factor of both heart and respiratory health.
Persistent Stress Can Be Dangerous
Stress can make a person’s blood pressure temporarily soar above the normal levels. When the nervous system is stimulated the production of vasoconstricting hormones will rise thereby resulting in increased blood pressure. Causes of stress and the degree of reaction to it will vary from person to person.
As with all stress-related responses the temporary increase of blood pressure is not usually a problem. However, health issues occur when stress hormones are not dissipated and remain in the system due to chronic stress, causing the patient’s resting pulse rate and blood pressure to be persistently and dangerously elevated.
How One’s Attitude towards Stress Can Lead to Hypertension
Even if stress itself is not the direct cause of a person’s high blood pressure, the associated attitudes and behaviors of a person relating to that stress can contribute to the development of hypertension. For example, a common coping mechanism for many people is the habit of eating comfort foods in order to cope with stress.
These comfort foods are not nutritious but are usually high in sugar, sodium and additives that further increase the risk of hypertension and other health risks. Stress not only leads to emotional eating. It also changes a person’s food preferences. This is why stressed individuals have increased tendencies to choose sugar laden food and drinks paired with processed foods that are high in sodium content.
When Stress Leads to Persistent Food Cravings
The corticotrophin-releasing hormone produced by the brain’s hypothalamus during stress is known to suppress appetite temporarily. In times of stress this hormone will signal the adrenal glands to produce more epinephrine which revs up the body’s fight or flight response, which includes putting craving for food on hold.
If stress becomes persistent the adrenal glands will start producing a different hormone called cortisol that increases an individual’s appetite. Normally, cortisol levels go down once a stressful event is gone. However, if stress becomes chronic the body’s fight or flight response will also refuse to turn off resulting in persistent food cravings.
The human body is made up of different parts that must work together in order to provide us with the energy and the thinking mind we need in our daily lives. When stress is applied to one of the parts, the entire body is also affected.
Any stress which can be dealt with, or even which mildly over-reaches the usual capacity of the affected part is usually beneficial and induces growth. However, demanding or persistent stress can be overwhelming and damaging. This is why different people may perceive stress as something that is a very annoying or even destructive part of everyday life, while others see it as something that urges them to achieve more.
The damaging effects of either extreme acute stress or chronic stress can manifest in many different ways. One of the more obvious and visible signs can be the effects on our skin. Stress can be a real beauty saboteur.
Stress deprives the skin of nourishment
Stress can make it very difficult for a person to get a good night’s sleep. Many of those who are battling with chronic stress have disturbed or incomplete sleep patterns. Most people know that sleep is essential for the body to repair and heal itself.
It is during sleep that the process of removing dead cells in the blood and in the brain largely occurs. This removal of dead cells is crucial for the process of replacing these old cells with new ones. With sufficient sleep each night, the body is capable of shuttling out 60 per cent more toxins than when sleep-deprived.
If stress repeatedly robs you of sufficient sleep at night, your skin health will very likely suffer. The resulting signs can be both sensory and visual.
Stress increases oil production
Stress causes an increase in the production of the hormone cortisol. Research indicates that even those who are not prone to acne may find themselves suffering from stress-related acne, due to oily skin caused by this excessive production of cortisol. This will then increase the incidence of acne and other related skin problems.
Stress dehydrates the skin
Stress triggers the production of hormones that will lead to the redirecting of blood away from the skin. This deprivation of blood subsequently means deprivation of oxygen and other nutrients needed by the skin. This will lead over time to a loss of that healthy glow and an increase in the appearance of wrinkles.
Ongoing stress will therefore have a drying effect on the skin. This fluid deficiency adversely impacts the barrier function of the skin. The dehydration of skin can further inhibit its ability to repair itself. This will then make the person’s skin prone to dullness, acne, hyperpigmentation and inflammation.
According to dermatologist Howard Murad, stress leads to the thinning of the cell layers found on the surface of the skin. This thinning of cell layers can then develop into microscopic holes that allow water to leak from the cells. This occurrence reduces the ability of the skin to protect itself from the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays. This will result in skin that lacks luster with fine lines becoming more apparent.
How one’s emotions affect the skin is now being studied in a field of study called psychodermatology. Experts believe that a person’s mind and skin are connected in more ways than one. This further supports the understanding that our state of mind has on the health and appearance of our skin.
Whereas topical applications of skin creams and other products attempt to be a cure, prevention begins with reducing the stress that causes the physical symptoms to appear. To improve the condition and appearance of your skin and to delay some of the effects often attributed to aging, take steps to eliminate stressors or learn how to better deal with them.
If your skin is displaying signs related to stress, you can be certain that many more problems exist ‘beneath the surface’. Your skin is warning you to take action.